Andrew, our Senior Youth Correspondent is back! This time he reviews the Max Levine Ensemble.
Max Levine Ensemble
Wednesday December 23, 2009
Black Cat Backstage
Photos by Rachel Atcheson
When DC native David Combs (aka Spoonboy) is not busy spreading the word on grass roots anarchy movements or supporting local charities, he fronts the Max Levine Ensemble, one of DC’s best-kept musical secrets. The Max Levine Ensemble (MLE), a pop punk trio that follows a DIY ethic that brings to mind bands such as Fugazi, are something of a rare (relative) success in the world of DC underground punk-which despite what people say still exists, albeit not very visibly. While there is some similarity to the operation of 80s/90s Dischord bands in MLE’s anti-corporate stance and self-run, exhaustive touring of the country, they do it with a sincerity not seen in many “purist” DC punk acts.
Maybe you caught MLE at Fort Reno—they have played several summers over the past few years. The group plays super high-energy blend of pop punk and ska that incorporates politically and socially conscious lyrics. A sampling of tracks from the band’s handful of albums and EPs brings to mind Ted Leo and The Thermals. I caught MLE this past Wednesday at the Black Cat.
For a band that I had seen twice before and already knew I liked a lot, MLE still managed to put on a very entertaining show. The approximately 40 minute set saw the band pulling out new songs from a new cassette release entitled “Them Steadily Depressing, Low Down Mind Messing, Post Modern Recession Blues.” Well that’s just a mouthful! Lyrical content on those songs seemed to consist of pretty direct indictments of those responsible for the financial debacle of 08/09. The band played super tight and had a surprising fidelity to the quality of the recorded versions of their songs. Meaning they are a good live act, not that you’d be just as satisfied to stay home and listen to the records. Drumming from Nick Popovici was fast and furious; bassist “Bepstein” handled a fair portion of the singing, adding a nice change from Spoonboy’s lead vocal. Banter was at just the right level-enough to make the audience feel recognized but not so much that something stupid/annoying is bound to be said.
I think a big area of success for this band has been the accessibility of their music, especially to the younger portion of the DC scene (The band are in their mid twenties however). Upbeat, catchy pop punk is often written off as mall punk Hot Topic garbage—and often there is truth in that. MLE pair deathly serious lyrics and outlook with catchy pop punk in a way that, as mentioned before, comes off very sincere.. Sure, they have goofy nicknames and too long cassette titles, but these guys deserve some credit. They are a punk band that is still finding issues to comment on even after George W. left the White House. That plus the quality of the tunes is enough for me. Check em out!
Monday, December 28, 2009
Andrew, our Senior Youth Correspondent is back! This time he reviews the Max Levine Ensemble.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Sure, It's a Wonderful Life, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and A Christmas Story are great holiday flicks (I hear Elf was good too, though I have yet to see it), but often overlooked is the 1988 classic, and best-Christmas-movie-of-all-times, Die Hard. Don't believe me? I just watched it again while riding the Amtrak, and sure enough I'm right.
Besides all the shooting, explosions, and clever one-liners, let me remind you/inform you that within the first 10 minutes of this motion picture, RUN-D.M.C.'s "Christmas in Hollis" is featured - not too shabby a beginning, if you ask me.
Since it's Christmas time, I'll share with you, dear reader, a couple of youtube clips in keeping with the spirit of a gluttonous holiday. Happy birthday Jesus.
no time to watch all of Die Hard again?
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 07, 2009
I don't think it will come as a surprise to you, Rock Club reader, that we are a soft lot. When we last all met up, we were set to visit with the Big Pink at the Black Cat. But a late start plus cold weather plus Creedence Clearwater Revival on the stereo equaled a night in playing cards and talking stupid.
What began as a conversation about the difference between freeze-dried food (think astronaut) and regular dried food (think hikers) quickly spun out of control like a drunk with a hula-hoop and turned into speculation about how long it would take before someone would make a porn in space.
Key questions: Would it be straight porn? Would the Russians get there first? I hazard to guess that if the Russians got there first, it would be straight porn, but if the Americans were first, it'd be the gays to get it done. Lance Bass has already been certified by both NASA and the Russian Space Program after several months of cosmonaut training. So watch for him to emerge as a leading contender.
With all of that space talk, let's have a look at the ultimate in geek rock:
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Dec. 1, 2009
At last night's Metric concert a friend described the band as a "guilty pleasure". Saying they're a guilty pleasure implies you should feel embarrassed for being a Metric fan. You shouldn't. Sure, Metric sugary pop rock may lack indie cred but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it without feeling shame. I rarely fall for anything with Top 40 appeal but with Metric I make an exception. I'm a sucker for their brand of electronic dance rock and new-wave.
Metric consists of three dudes and Emily Haines. Let's get serious though. No one gives a rat's ass about the guys. Everyone was there to see Emily Haines. The majority of the crowd were women which was a nice change of pace. Usually I'm at sausagefest indie shows filled with smelly bearded dudes (btw, what's the opposite of a sausagefest?). Thankfully, this was a no B.O. show. Just lots of lovely ladies dancing and singing away to their favorite songs.
Haines is a captivating front woman but not in a Beth Ditto or Karen O way. She has her own cute and endearing style. She's even a bit goofy. Oh, and did I mention she's dead sexy? Uma-esque even. She looked great in a her glittery dress that I'm guessing she stole from an Olympic Figure Skater. She's also a great singer and songwriter. Great dancer? Well, let's just say her dance moves were very...white. Perhaps Canadian is better description. She reminded me of a band geek turned hottie drunkenly dancing at her 10-year high school reunion. Some of the moves came straight from a Jazzercise video. It was cute and funny and only made me like her more. You can see some of her dancing in the videos below:
Throughout the show it was clear Haines was having fun and the crowd loving every minute. I was there to hear songs off the latest record, Fantasies, but the crowd was most excited for older hits such as "Dead Disco". Each song was greeted with loud cheers and dozens of cameras thrust high in the air to record the moment.
After a near perfect set the band performed a brief encore that included an acoustic version of "Combat Baby". I was convinced they'd return for the oh-so-rare second encore but it wasn't to be. The crowd certainly was ready for it, but Metric is like Costanza. They go out on a high note.
For more video and great pictures from the show, check out Ultra 8201!
For those interested, here's the set list:
Help I'm Alive
Portrait of a Girl
Gold Guns Girls
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
This Thanksgiving, I stayed put in our glorious capital city. No hassles. No road rage. It was great. There was no one really around, lots of parking spaces available, and a calm that usually only comes with a nuclear winter. It reminded me of being a kid and going to school after hours. Kind of invigorating. As was walking off with staplers and pencil sharpeners, and writing "Ted Levine pees his pants" on all the chalk boards. Hey, it was true.
Despite there being no one in town, there were enough people to fill the theater Friday night for the Washington, DC premiere screening of Tommy Wiseau's The Room at the E Street Cinema. Jimbromski is our resident earlier adapter and has written extensively about this masterpiece of a movie; see: "A View with A Room" & "Nice party, Lisa...".
In honor of our recent big screen viewing, we bring you The Room rap.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Earlier this year Jimbromski saw Metric at the 9:30 Club and he graced us with a review that was lost on everyone under 30. I'll try to decipher the review for all the young people out there. His basic message was Metric is going to be huge. And you should play them while having sex with your rat-tailed lover. Oh, and getting a haircut like a hedgehog isn't very attractive. All valid points.
Since that June show, Metric's profile has indeed continued to grow. Which is why I'm surprised tickets to the La Zona Rosa show on Tuesday, Dec. 1st are still available. Get yours before the shows sells out.
UPDATE: the show is now sold out.
Final note: the band recently released an EP with acoustic versions of songs from FANTASIES. Use the widget below to preview some of the songs from Plug In Plug Out. I recommend the video for "Help, I'm Alive".
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Retire-in-Peace, sweet Ben. I was always pleased that you made the 2006 World Cup team, even though you and yours shat the bed in Germany. Abe Pollin overshadowed you, which is totally rude, but there is one small corner of the District that will always be Ben Olsen's ankle.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
One of my brother's favorite tv shows is CBS's How I Met Your Mother. I've rarely watched it, but I can see its appeal. First, as anyone who has seen Harold & Kumar know, Neil Patrick Harris is excellent. I never thought he would surpass his role as D. Howser, medicine boy. Second, Cobie Smulders is super hot.
Then there is Jason Segel, star of films like Forgetting the Sarah Marshall Silvermans and I Love You, Man, in addition to HIMYM. I didn't much care for the puppeteering he did on Forgetting... but he's pretty damn funny otherwise. And despite what The Journal Gazette's Steve Penhollow says, there is plenty of nudity on the big screen. Maybe too much nudity thanks to Jason Segel.
In this week's YouTube clip, Jason Segel collaborates with the Swell Season to perform an original song in LA last week. Enjoy.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Pretty Lights 11/18/09 at 9:30 Club
Dear DC Rock Club reader,
Here's what you should know about Pretty Lights. If you are between 15 and 23 years old, aren't in a wheel chair, and like to party, you are an idiot for not being at the 9:30 Club last night. But if you are in your mid 30s like us, wheel chair or not, you do not belong at a Pretty Lights show, no matter how much you like to party. Unless of course you are one of those dudes that likes to slip shit in young girls drinks, or some sort of cougar-in-training looking for a boy toy.
See the photo above? That's what I walked into at 11:15pm last night. Pretty Lights was a late show, which normally means doors at 10pm. But not last night, and when I arrived, there were lines wrapped around both sides of the entrance. Will-call was nuts and I opted out of standing in line with generation Y2K to get mine. Instead, I stood on the street and just watched the scene as the 930 club strongmen managed the crowd. It was a lot like standing in the street watching firemen battle a blaze. A bit fascinating just to stare at. The staff were also doing some minor policing, sniffing the contents of the apple cider container, confiscating bottles of wine and vodka. Ah, the memories. I was particularly impressed with the black shuttle van that showed up and deposited a group of glow-sticked party-goers that would make Jimmy Buffett proud.
I hung out for 25 minutes - reliving the experience of being desperate to booze and yearning to bust a move. Make that yawning. With no movement into the club, I eventually looked at my watch and calculated the minutes before Pretty Lights would go on stage, and the number of years I've been on this planet, and left the 24 hour party people to their craft.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
We love indie rock but every so often you need to mix things up a bit. That may mean a heavy metal show at Jaxx or a pleasant adult contemporary band at Iota. For this week's show we're opting for some dance/electronica in the form of Pretty Lights at the 9:30 Club on Wednesday night.
Pretty Lights are Derek Vincent Smith on the turntable and Cory Eberhard manning the drum kit. I won't pretend to be an expert on DJ culture but I'd say that if you're a fan of DJ Shadow, you'll find a lot to like in Pretty Lights. You can test my theory by downloading the latest album, Passing By Behind Your Eyes, for free at www.prettylightsmusic.com. Below is a great video of Pretty Lights live at Red Rocks. If you like what you see and hear (or are hoping to meet the girl in the green bikini), get your tickets for Wednesday's show before it sells out.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Rock and Roll Hotel
November 14, 2009
What the fuck is happening to the Rock and Roll Hotel? You can no longer stand to the right of the stage. You also cannot partake of the lovely men's room with the trough down the hall from the stage. No admission, plebs. I enjoy the trough because it requires no lateral aim. If someone speaks to me, I can turn a full 30-40 degrees to either side to respond to them and still be hitting the target. Not that I do that, but I could.
None of this, of course, is the fault of White Denim. Jumbo Slice loves this band and none of us can figure out why. Not that White Denim suck. They don't. It's just that they play music that I believe used to be called "Acid Rock", and Jumbo Slice is the world's leading pussy, and I guess we all assumed that listening to White Denim would cause him to tremble and break into tears. I guess we don't know Jumbo as well as we thought. I only knew one White Denim song coming into this (the excellent "Let's Talk About It") and I only knew one White Denim song coming out of this (the excellent "Let's Talk About It"). But who cares? No one remembers anything by Blue Cheer. There were no breaks between songs and I think they played two slow numbers to break things up. Otherwise it was GO-GO-GO for 90 minutes. They also kind of sounded like one of those pilled-up English rock bands like the Yardbirds, or Cream when Clapton had that cool afro. Good music to put a sweaty sheen on your face and cause your eyeballs to roll back into your head. So high marks to White Denim.
I couldn't decide who the bass player looked like more, Brandon Teena, or the gay kid from Glee:
On the cab ride to the show we were trying to remember who co-starred with Bill Murray in Stripes and someone said "Kurt Rambis" and we all laughed. It was, of course, Harold Ramis, but Ramis was the Rambis of SCTV, in that he was surrounded by superior talent (John Candy, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis, Martin Short, etc.) and he fucking sucked and wasn't funny/skilled at basketball.
Just a quick reminder that The Jet Age (see our review of their new album) is playing tonight at Trophy's on South Congress. It's an early show (9 PM) so there's no excuse to stay at home. Come out, enjoy some great live music, and still get home at a reasonable hour. What's not to love? Plus, if you see me and mention this post I'll buy you a beer - for reals.
Another reminder for those in DC: The Jet Age is playing a FREE show on Saturday night at Comet Ping-Pong to celebrate their new CD. Don't miss it!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Two Man Gentlemen Band - Focus Music @ Church of the Resurrection, Alexandria, Virginia 11/8/09
A good friend of mine went to elementary school in New Hampshire with 1/2 of the Two Man Gentlemen Band. When he learned that his long time friend would be playing in the DC area, he called me up to invite me along. I asked him where in Alexandria the show was. "Some place called 'Focus?'," he said. Turns out Focus Music is all about folk and acoustic performances. According to their website:
In addition to supporting the local folk music performing community, Focus presents concerts at two area locations that feature top-quality local and nationally touring performers of acoustic American, International, traditional and contemporary folk music.
The Two Man Gentlemen Band is like the best parts of the Smothers Brothers, Prairie Home Companion, and other seemingly innocuous (and maligned) musical acts/programs. Before you roll your eyes, I said "best parts." Seeing their video clips doesn't do them justice. These guys are clever and solid musicians, albeit slightly hokey. They especially appeal to the math/history/science dork, which is 89% of DC. And they manage to sell out shows in their home town of NYC on a regular basis. Trouble is, they were booked for Focus, which in Alexandria, is a lowly community room with folding chairs in a church off of I-395. Refreshments for this gig were courtesy of a church bake sale, everything for a dollar (choice of can of soda, two-cookie platter, or tiny brownie). Thankfully we made it on the guest list, otherwise the tickets were $18. Eighteen dollars. Wow. Ballz.
The TMGB shtick consists of lots of double entendre, drug use, and boozing, which made the whole scene all the more uncomfortable with blue-haired old ladies and breast-feeding moms in attendance. Here's a peek into what we saw:
Monday, November 09, 2009
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down @ the Black Cat - 11/6/09 - $15
I know that Jumbo Slice is going to write up something for Thao when he sees her later this week, probably letting us know how he whored himself out as indie-rock innkeeper and invited the nomadic minstrels to crash with him and his ever-so-patient wife and unsuspecting child, Tiny Slice in their Austin abode. So I'll just let our reader know a little about Thao's performance on Friday night.
I made sure to get to the club at 8 to buy my tickets. It was a Friday night and little else going on, and the DCist among others was pushing the show. The box office didn't open on time, so there was a bit of standing around waiting. Also standing around waiting was an attractive woman of Asian decent, and we kept making eye contact periodically. It started getting a little weird and then it got in my head. Even though I didn't know this woman, I knew who she wasn't. But still, I started thinking, "maybe she thinks that I think that she's Thao." Anyhow, I left with my tickets and came back later with Emma Peel in time for the Portland Cello Project.
My advice to the Portland Cello Project: less cello. I liked the idea of busting out some familiar tunes played on the cello, but choosing Britney Spears and Outkast covers did not do much for me. Pantera was a good call, but something a little more accessible would be better. Maybe some Elton John, Bad Company, Metallica, that sort.
Emma asked me to describe Thao before the show, and eventually I described her music as something you'd hear on an iPod/iPhone commercial. Oh oh oh, oh oh oh. Cheery and pop-rocking. I like it, so that's not meant to be a criticism, but I can see how it could be taken that way.
The show was a sell out, a nice homecoming for the VA native / W&M alumna. Glad I got my tickets early. More than mid way through, two young hipsters appeared on stage, and the chap asked the lass to make it legal. You'll see the tail end of that happening on the video below, complete with Thao's apology for having so many songs about relationships breaking down. Then you got the bag o hammer's song.
Good show, and thanks to Lil and Lauren for their Black Catspitality.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
One of our favorite DC Bands, The Jet Age, is back with a new album called in "Love". It's a concept album* like their 2008 critically acclaimed album What Did You Do During The War, Daddy? As you guessed, it's about falling in love, falling out of love, and everything that happens in between.
in "Love" is an impressive shift of gears and shows an emotional range I didn't know the band possessed. For every guy (or girl) that's had a serious significant other, you'll relate to the main characters (not sure if that's the right word to use) on this album. The songs do a beautiful job of detailing the relationship arc and the feelings at each stage of that journey. Plus, it rocks every step of the way, which doesn't hurt. The album is a shift not only lyrically but musically. I was struck by the new sounds (ex. swirling guitars) that depart from their trademark power rock. Don't get me wrong, this is still a power trio but they change tones, tempos, and keep you guessing. And they do this while maintaining the things I love most about the band. For example, I'm an album guy. I listen to albums from start to finish. I appreciate bands that produce full lengths that work as a whole, not just a series of individual songs. If you're an album person as well, The Jet Age is the band for you.
If you want to buy in "Love" (and you should) the band is generously letting fans name their own price for the album ($1 minimum). Anyone who pays $10 or more gets both the digital download and a physical copy of the CD. Not too shabby. Especially if you're unemployed and are sucking off the government teet (like me).
The band's national tour begins this evening in Columbus. I'm looking forward to their show in Austin on 11/16 at Trophy's. For my fellow Austinites: mark this date on your calendar.
11/4: Columbus, OH (Carabar)
11/5: Chicago, IL (Beat Kitchen)
11/6: Des Moines, IA (House of Bricks)
11/7: Lawrence, KS (The Bandit Teeth House)
11/8: Denver, CO (3 Kings)
11/10: KEXP In-Studio Performance (3pm PST)
11/10: Seattle, WA (Sunset Tavern)
11/11: Portland, OR (Rotture)
11/12: San Francisco, CA (Hemlock Tavern)
11/13: Monterey, CA (Jose's Underground Lounge)
11/14: Los Angeles, CA (Echo Curio)
11/16: Austin, TX (Trophy's)
11/18: Atlanta, GA (Drunken Unicorn)
11/19: Durham, NC (The Pinhook)
12/11: Washington, DC (Rock and Roll Hotel)
UPDATE: The Jet Age has a FREE CD Release Party at Comet Ping Pong on Saturday, 11/21. Don't miss it!
*technically the last album was a "soundtrack to an imaginary musical". Some referred to it as a rock opera. I'm sticking with the standard concept album description.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Since I got called out for reposting a video that Jumbo slice posted back in March, I might as well go for two and post something that I heard on Marketplace this morning. Weezer has always been quirky, but I'm not sure I like this idea.
Sometimes it's just plain nice to hear local talent on the radio, er internet. Such was the case this afternoon when WOXY spun Middle Distance Runner's The Unbeliever. After which, and in doing my Monday night homework, I stumbled upon this gem of a video.
Make sure you get through the 2:30 mark. That's when things get interesting.
Monday, November 02, 2009
Time for another sporadic update from Austin. Since I last checked in I've seen Bad Veins, The Dustys, Brazos, White Denim, and Future of the Left. None disappointed and a few were outstanding. A quick recap of White Denim and FOTL:
White Denim solidified their position as my favorite Austin band with a searing and breathless set featuring many songs off their new album, Fits. Halfway through, Lou Barlow and his band made their way to the very front of the stage. They must have walked over immediately after finishing their set at Stubb's. Lou looked blown away by White Denim and could be seen excitedly talking with the band after the show. While that celebrity sighting was pretty cool it didn't compare to the VIP at the Dirty Projector's show earlier this week: Ron Jeremy. I'm serious. The Hedgehog was in the house.
The Future of the Left delivered exactly what I expected. Their set was raucous, headbanging, and hysterical. By the end they had completely dismantled the drum set and were playing what instruments were left out in the crowd. There wasn't a lot of people at the show, but those there had a shitload of fun.
After those bands I decided to stay in this weekend. However, I'm heading to Mohawk tonight to see Le Loup. They're touring in support of the new album, Family and I don't want to miss a chance to see them perform their haunting and infectious music. Here's one of the singles off of Family:
"Beach Town" by Le Loup
I wasn't a fan of Le Loup right off the bat but each time I listened to their first album I found more to love. The second album is more accessible on first listen and every bit as good, if not better. If the live show comes close to the quality of the records, we're in for a treat tonight.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
There are a bunch of very, very good shows going on this weekend in Austin. Let's work backwards, shall we? Sunday night Art Brut comes to town. Tomorrow night Dinosaur Jr., Built To Spill, White Denim, Brazos, and Future of the Left are all playing within 3 blocks of each other. I'm planning to catch both Future of the Left and White Denim. I've been a huge Dinosaur Jr. fan for many years and have yet to see them live, but they drew the proverbial short straw. Better luck next time Mr. Mascis.
I kick off the weekend tonight at Emo's. There are a plethora of bands on the bill. The inside stage features The Subjects, Bad Veins, and MoTel Aviv while the outside stage has The Bravery, Crash Kings, and DC's own The Dustys. Seeing The Dustys and Bad Veins are my priority. After that we'll see what happens. I'm interested in The Subjects but I can't say I have much desire to see The Bravery.
In case you aren't aware of Bad Veins, they're a duo from Cincinnati that are known for their "irresistible hooks, propulsive beats and inventive use of vintage electronics, such as megaphones, telephones and a reel-to-reel tape machine." Benjamin Davis and Sebastien Schultz are also known for their dynamic live shows which have garnered praise up and down the east coast. For those in DC, you can check them out on Wednesday night:
Bad Veins and The Subjects
Wednesday, Oct. 28th
Here's Bad Veins ode to the golden shower, "Gold and Warm". It gives you a sense of their fuzzed out anthemic indie rock and their sexual perversions:
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Ume (pronounced ooo-may), one of my favorite discoveries since moving to Austin, is coming to DC. They've played the District before but not in some time. I strongly recommend you check this band out:
w/ The Fervor and The Bronze Chorus
The Red and The Black
Tuesday, Oct. 20th
The power trio band is led by the fetching Lauren Larson and her heavy, thunderous guitar. She commands the sonic assualt but the band isn't all wrecking ball riffs and cool-chick vocals. They can also churn out pop hooks and catchy melodies. The reaction to their excellent Sunflower EP has overwhelmingly positive and helped land them spots on tour with bands such as The Meat Puppets and Dead Confederate. As they head to NYC for CMJ, it'll only be a matter of time before they're playing bigger and bigger venues. This is your "I saw them when..." moment. Don't miss it.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Lucero - 9:30 Club - Thursday, October 15, 2009 $15
Any time I see a band with their name displayed behind them, I start to worry. This is exactly what dbag Scott Stapp does when he's on stage. Look here, you can make out the 12 foot tall letters of his name in the back. A word, if I may. Don't be like Scott Stapp. It was fine when Elvis did it in 1968. But that was 40 years ago, and he was The King. You can see where I'm going with this. Quite literally. There's a picture...
Lucero was a band I had read about as participants in one of the many musical festivals that operate in our great nation. And when I say read about them, I mean that I read their name on a list. I didn't do any research on this show in advance, though Jumbo Slice did give me a head's up: "a little too Southern Rock for me. They’re not bad, it’s just not my thing." On this, we agree.
The 930 was 5/8 full for this Thursday night show. Lots of white dudes in attendance, myself included. I know there's a good number of single women in DC who are looking to get themselves a man, if they aren't too picky, perhaps a show like Lucero's would serve them well. Lucero hails from the wide state of Tennessee and has the twang to prove it. I think I counted 6 band members on stage, not including the 3 horn players. At $15 a ticket, that's a lot of folks to split the money with.
I think the horn players were perhaps the best thing about this show. They balanced out the otherwise overwhelmingly strong southern stylings into a fuller, richer sound that grabbed my attention. But that was as exciting as the band got. I'm not much for the vocals offered by Ben Nichols. Too raspy, though maybe the throat spray he used was indication of a weakened voice box. It was a little too close to a redneck version of Everclear, though I like the Everclear hits, I must admit.
*"What are you willing to lose?" is track 2 on Lucero's 2009 release, 1372 Overton Park.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
There is a growing catalog of local (DC) TV ads that are poorly produced, but have a certain musical quality that grabs you by the love handles and just won't let go.
So far, the notables include:
and the most recent addition comes to us from the world of HVAC....
John C. Flood (the original)
Thursday, October 08, 2009
The Gossip @ The 930 Club Wednesday, October 7, 2009 - $21
I first heard of The Gossip via KEXP's Live performance on 2/22/2006. I was underwhelmed by the interview with Beth Ditto and the rest of The Gossip, as they seemed a bit dim. But Ditto's vocals (even with a cold) were hard to ignore as was the guitar rock they pushed out. So I was psyched at the chance to see them at the Black Cat later that year promoting Standing in the Way of Control. But that wasn't meant to be (for me, any way). Then came word that they would return to the Black Cat November 14, 2007 with Long Blondes. Sweet. What? What's that you say...? Cancelled?
Fast forward to 2009 and The Gossip have returned to the States after concluding a European tour (read: vacation) and are now promoting their 4th LP, Music for Men.
I got tickets again, and despite the fact that this was a late show at the 930 Club (The Gossip didn't come on until 12:30am), I stayed awake long enough to finally see the hefty Beth Ditto and company strut their stuff.
I'm sure that for the superfans of The Gossip, it was an awesome show. I'm sure those folks stayed to the end, heard all of the hits, and took Beth out to Denny's for a grandslam breakfast when it was all over. As for DCRC, we didn't make it that far. First, anything that wasn't on Standing in the Way of Control was foreign to me, and I'll lump all of those tracks into the "new stuff" category that is always disappointing for concert goers (like me) who want to hear the familiar. With the exception of 2 songs, this "new stuff" sounded way too much like Madonna circa 1985, fuzzy pop synthesizers instead of crashing guitars. I'm making the thumbs down motion with my left hand as i type with my right.
One of the "hits" we did hear before we left was "Keeping you Alive." That's a good one. But then it was back to mediocre tracks that made me think this was their sophomore album, and not the 4th record in their catalog.
Other comments I'd make:
Beth Ditto doesn't hold much back (except what her spanks and industrial strength bra can manage). She has a great voice, which should be used for singing and not for banter with the crowd (weak). She also managed to perform exceptionally well after leaving the stage for the floor of the 930 Club. Not easy, I don't imagine, to sing while being engulfed by an enthusiastic crowd. Not easy to push her back on stage either.
I did feel a bit out of my element for the 930 Club. Not a crime, but there was quite a lot of gay talk coming from the stage. Seemed like I was at Tracks. "How do I know you're gay?" sacklunch texted me while at the show. "You're at a Gossip concert," he answered while standing next to me. So it seemed. You've got the mic, so you can do what you want. But all I am saying is that it took away from the show a bit.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Last month I ran the VA Beach Rock and Roll Half-marathon, and one of the bands that performed somewhere around mile 10 played "Whipping Post" as I approached. Seemed appropriate, now that I think of it. The band, btw, was made up of 4 or 5 boys not one of them over the age of 15. They were like Silverchair, but poor.
Monday, October 05, 2009
Disappointed you didn't win our White Lies contest? Well, don't be. When our contest winner, Jennifer Leduc, went to Will Call there were no tickets for her. I was extremely pissed off as I spent hours figuring out what went wrong. I never did get a straight answer. In the end there were no tickets and we were shit out of luck. Thankfully, some random stranger gave Jennifer and her friend passes so at least she was able to enjoy the festival - no thanks to White Lies and their people.
Despite the positive outcome I'm still annoyed Jennifer spent hours sitting outside the box office for no good reason. I did get a "Sorry! There was break down in communication..." message which is another way of saying "these things happen and no one is about to take responsibility".
We're fortunate bands and publicists add us to guest lists, etc. I'm not complaining about that. But when I'm offered four free tickets (I never asked for them) and then those tickets never materialize, well you can bet I'm going to be fucking mad.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
That's right, we're giving away two Sunday General Admin tickets compliments of our friends, White Lies. Before we discuss how you can win, let's talk about White Lies.
The band hails from London, England and plays synth-infused post-punk indie rock that has drawn comparisons to Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, and Joy Division. While the Joy Division comparisons have merit, the music is not dour, dark, or depressing. In fact, despite melancholy lyrics (I mean, their first single is called "Death" off the To Lose My Life album) the music is somehow uplifting and even danceable. There's also a grandeur to the music that indicates the band is better suited for large festivals or venues than small clubs. The "bigness" of their sound helped them land the opening slot on the upcoming Kings of Leon tour.
So, do you want a chance to see White Lies on Sunday from 3:00-4:00 at the XBox360 stage? After White Lies plays you can stick around and see other bands such as Pearl Jam, The Dead Weather, Arctic Monkeys, Passion Pit, Girl Talk, and Dirty Projectors. Email us DCRockClub@gmail.com with the subject line "White Lies Contest". We're tempted to make you fess up to the worst white lie you've ever told, but we know you'd just be lying to us anyway. We'll leave it up to the Random.org gods to pick the winner. You have until Friday at 5PM EST to enter the contest so send in that email now!
"Death" by White Lies
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Lebowski Fest with Black Diamond Heavies @ The 9:30 Club, September 28, 2009 - $20
So last night the very sweet Emma Peel took me to see one of the finer films of our time, The Big Lebowski, at the 9:30 Club. It was my birthday, and this was near the top of my list of things I wanted to do last evening, so like The Dude, she obliged.
Dubbed, "Lebowski Fest," organizers collected $20 per person for a movie that was new to the theaters over 10 years ago (ticket price was probably $7 at the time), and for a movie that you can buy for ~ $15 on DVD. Still, the atmosphere was what you were paying for (along with White Russians), and it was pretty fun to see guys in bathrobes, bearded dudes in sweaters, and women dressed up like valkyries. But if you have any friends who also like this movie as much as you do, just rent it yourself and put your $20 toward buying supplies of vodka, Kahlúa, and cream.
Here's one of my favorite musical moments from the film (I forget how cool Kenny Rogers once was):
Oh, and Black Diamond Heavies were the opening act. They were deafening, and grated on every nerve ending in my ears. If you like that sort of thing, check them out.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I'm heading to Florida tomorrow for a little get away (it's tiring not having a job) but I'm already regretting my poor timing. I'm leaving Austin just as a slew of excellent bands roll into town. Here's a sampling of the bands I'll be missing as I lounge away in what has to be our most fucked up state: The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Cymbols Eat Guitars, Monotonix, Asobi Seksu, Experimental Dental School (check them out if you like bands like Deerhoof and White Denim), Cave Singers, Lightning Dust, DataRock, and The Horrors just to name a few. David Byrne is even in town to talk about his new book.
While I'm bummed to be missing the aforementioned bands, I was really looking forward to seeing Langhorne Slim at Waterloo Records on Friday afternoon. Readers of this blog know I love a good in-store performance (and not just b/c of the free beer). In-stores tend to be laid back and intimate which will suit Slim just fine.
Langhorne has a new album coming out on Tuesday, Sept. 29th called Be Set Free. Here's the first single off the album, "I Love You But Goodbye":
Nice tune, huh? For those in the DC area, you can see Langhorne at Record and Tape Traders in Towson, MD on October 1st or at the Rock & Roll Hotel on November 17th. He'll also be back in Austin on November 11th at the Mohawk. I already have it marked on my calendar so I don't plan anymore ill-timed trips.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The Walkmen @ 9:30 Club - September 22, 2009 - $15
Hamilton Leithauser and I are pretty tight. See? Here we are hanging out after last night's show. Don't pay any attention to that sneer he's throwing my way while I'm not looking. That's just good ol' Ham. What kind of a name is Hamilton Leithauser, anyway? Sounds like a power tool company, or a place you'd go to buy a massive tractor or specialty aircraft.
Either way, this guy who used to cruise the hallways of DC's St. Alban's prep school, has graduated to front the NYC/Philly rock fivesome, The Walkmen. During the set I actually thought to myself that he appeared kinda tall. It's always hard to tell though. Everyone looks taller when they're on a stage, on TV, or when standing next to sacklunch. But now I know he's kinda tall, since I'm kinda tall, and here we are looking to be about the same height. This is fascinating stuff, huh?
Since we got to the venue a bit on the tardy-side, we missed any good banter that may have been offered at the outset. Stuff like, "It's great to be back in DC where I have $250 of unpaid parking tickets." You know, something only a former resident could say. Actually, there was a bit of banter I remember hearing toward the end of the show. Something about Mr. Leithauser losing the keys to their car. This was probably why he was still standing outside as Jimbromski and I left the club. Maybe we should have offered him a ride.
Mr. & Mrs. sacklunch had stopped by the rock clubhouse after Mrs. sacklunch's birthday dinner earlier in the evening. Lots of talk about the Lake Braddock High School reunion ensued, and before I knew it, Jimbromski and I were late to the show. I think we caught 4 songs before The Walkmen departed the stage for their pre-encore piss break. There was a nice crowd at the 9:30 club for a Wednesday, probably the perfect number of people. Crowded enough to show some love, but just enough space for easy access to the upstairs bar with room for a view down to the stage.
Here's a couple of clips from the show from our upstairs perch:
Jimbromski loves himself some Rat. Not to be confused with RATT (I don't know how he feels about them). But when it came around to the lyrics,
Now I go out alone if I go out at all,"
To paraphrase the old saying, don't judge an album by its cover (unless of course you're John Foster). When a promo for the new Division Day album arrived in our (rarely monitored) email box, I took one look at the cover and figured it was some bullshit group trying to be the next Evanescence. And yet...I gave them a shot and instantly realized my mistake. I expected some goth crap but they actually play what I'd call "dark indie". They sing songs about death and the Devil (hail Satan) while mixing scuzzy guitars with a bit of electronica. If you like shoegazer and intelligent industrial rock, this album is for you.
Division Day played Washington last week and we failed to alert our DC readers. Can't let the same thing happen to our Austin friends. The band plays Thursday night at the Mohawk. They're headlining the inside stage after Frightened Rabbit performs outside. The Mohawk is sure to be packed for what's probably the best line-up of bands they've had since SXSW.
Check out Division Day's video for "Surrender" off of Visitation:
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I dig how this intro has nothing but a mysterious audio track - no speaking - just an ax grinding away while we learn who each of these rocker/dancer/gang banger/hairdressers (?) are. Bandit. Gaucho. Tracy as Tracy.
Obviously Dirty Dancing was Swayze's best work. But I'll forever celebrate his work in Red Dawn, the
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Pure Prairie League @ "The Kate," Old Saybrook, CT - Friday, Sept. 11, 2009
I accidentally lured my mom onto Facebook recently. Facebook said I could send pics to people not on Facebook (my mom), and so I did, but this seemed to have been a trick. The next thing I knew, my mom was posting on my wall. This late adaptation got me thinking that as DCRockClub.com struggles to fight the summer lazys, we should reach out to a new demographic. All the nostalgia rock has been a cash cow for our senior rockers struggling to pay for their prescription drugs, so why not provide their concert goers with a heads up now and again?
Back home, they've recently turned the old town hall-turned-movie theater into the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, aka, The Kate. In case you didn't know - and why would you? - Katharine Hepburn was one of the few "local" celebrities for those of us growing up in the Connecticut River Valley. Her house was nearby a golf course that I played a couple of times. I never hit her house with a golf ball, but others tried.
So the first show at The Kate was scheduled for this past Friday night, and my dear mother plunked down her social security money to see 1970s country-rockers, Pure Prairie League. The rest of what you read is based on reports from my mom (our new senior seniors correspondent) and her scribe/husband. Pure Prairie League are on their 40th Anniversary tour, and fought off the hard rains en route to make it to Old Saybrook from Portland, Maine.
"They were great! The music was really good. Donnie Clark is a fantastic guitar picker." The show started "late" at about 8:15pm and ended sometime around 10:30. A long set if you ask me. Good thing The Kate is a seated theater with "very comfortable chairs with cushioned seats." There are only 250 of them in The Kate, and it so happened that my mom's was next to that of the chair of building committee (one of the main dudes that got this place up and running). Given the inaugural nature of the show, there were lots of folks in attendance who had spent years working to make the center possible. This fellow was nice enough to fetch my mom the set list after the show. Here it is:
Cost of Doing Business
Kansas City Southern
If You Could Say What I’m Thinkin
Getting Over You
Love U Tonight
Don’t go Confessin Your Love
Call Me/Tell Me
I’ll Fix Your Flat tire Merle
2 Lane Hiway
I Sure Do Miss You Now ( a 9/11 dedication)
Early Morning Riser
My mom said she recognized 2 of the songs, and I'm guessing "I’ll Fix Your Flat tire Merle" wasn't one of them.
More info about The Kate that our AARP readership might like to know:
"Acoustics were very good, not ear shattering. Ample parking, behind the theater for handicapped with easy access to the building. Ample parking on the street and surrounding parking lots. The side entrance at ground level also leads to a large foyer where the bar is located. Drinks were reasonably priced at $5.00 for beer and wine, large selection of beers and red and white wines, also champagne ($ ?).There is an elevator from this level to the concert hall. The restrooms are located on the lower level."
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Andrew, our Senior Youth Correspondent, is off crushing ass at UVA but still sends in periodic reports just to make Sacklunch look lazy. He takes the reins of "My Favorite Band (this week)" with this submission:
Got a tip on this band from Charlottesville's WTJU 91.9, a remarkably good commercial free modern rock station. They are an L.A. folk rock band. The track is "40 Day Dream" and it instantly shook me from my daily college student morning activities (dicking around mainly). I checked the band's Myspace and found a live video for the track. This piece of cinema is certainly worth peeping not only for the spectacle element of a bunch of Gypsy ass folks cavorting around like a more southern version Gogol Bordello, but also for the great tune and the way the singer incorporates lines like "Somebody better pinch me, bitch I swear I'll go crazy" with a frenzy. The music reminisces a little of the freakier Tom Waits material and even a little Brandon Flowers (of Killers). Check out the vid and even the produced version of the song (myspace), which is a little more sonically full. You gotta love the gospel feel and vocal intensity on this one.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
The schedule is now online! Considering the staggering number of good bands they've booked, there are bound to be conflicts on your "Must See" list. Should I see Danzig or Of Montreal? The Jesus Lizard or Destroyer or Ratatat? Fucked Up or Death? The options go on and on. Sure, it sucks we can't see every great band but it's not exactly a bad problem to have.
Despite my lack of posts I've been keeping busy here in Austin. Here's a quick round up of shows I've been to this month.
Elvis Costello at Austin City Limits. I've said it before and I'll say it agin: Nothing beats a taping of Austin City Limits. Sure, Elvis was playing bluegrass instead of punk rock and new wave but it was still fantastic. He has such great stage presence I'd watch him read the phonebook. Or play smooth jazz. Okay, maybe not but you get the point. Elvis is a legend.
Through the years Costello has dabbled in a variety of musical genres and he's quite at home playing bluegrass. Of course it helps when your backing band consists of world-class bluegrass musicians. These guys have more skills than your disc golf game (that's right, I'm talking to you hippie). For old times sake here's Elvis' infamous performance of "Radio, Radio" on Saturday Night Live:
For those unaware of the back story, Elvis was instructed by Columbia Records to play "Less Than Zero". Instead he played "Radio, Radio" which protests against the corporate interests of music studios and radio companies. You know, the whole stick it to "The Man" thing. By switching things up he pissed off the music executives and NBC. For years afterward he was unable to get on American TV.
The Fruit Bats, lead by Eric D. Johnson, played at Waterloo Records on Thursday afternoon. They ditched the stage and played busker-style on the floor. The stripped down performance had me very impressed. I had chalked The Fruit Bats up as a middle of the road soft-rock band (i.e. boring) but I was wrong. The songs were catchy, fun, and every bit as good as Johnson's other band, The Shins. I'm officially now a Fruit Bats fan.
Matt Shiv, WOXY Music Director, with my favorite things about Austin and my theories about the evils of pants. The party featured free BBQ and excellent music. A nice start for what's sure to be a very successful move for WOXY.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
During WOXY's Modern Rock 500 last week, Black Flag's T.V. Party track was featured, and I thought a second look was in order. It also coincided with sacklunch's thesis that artists who bulk up tend to be less impressive (at least musically) after they've eaten their spinach than before. One of sacklunch's examples was Henry Rollins (featured below). His other example, Glenn Danzig.
Friday, September 04, 2009
Okay, WOXY isn't a band. It's a radio station and a damn good one at that. My favorite station in fact. When I heard they were moving to Austin I was stoked. They set up shop in South Austin not far from my house. Does that mean I'm going to barge in and demand that Shiv play Fugazi and Dismemberment Plan? Actually, yes, it does. This city is full of indie dooshes like me that'll be all up in their grill. Welcome to Austin suckers.
To celebrate their relocation WOXY is throwing a big Texas BBQ on Sunday at The Scoot Inn. It'll feature Black Before Red, TV Torso, English Teeth and Martin Crane. Hopefully, this is just the first of many WOXY sponsored shows.
In other Jumbo Slice news...despite my lack of posts I've been to quite a few shows recently. I've seen a bluegrass band, a funk-soul band, a metal band, and an indie show (no jazz though). Oh, and some guy called Elvis Costello. I'll post pictures this weekend.
Finally, good luck to Potsy in the Rock & Roll Half-Marathon this weekend! A little advice: load up on Imodium so you don't shit your pants. Trust me.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
The Band: Green Day
From: Berkeley, California
Formed/Brokesed Up: 1987--
Sound & Vision: Green Day first crackled through our transistor radios in 1994 with “Longview.” Despite, or perhaps because of its reference to self-abuse (i.e., whackin’ it) and use of the word “fucking” (bleeped, of course), “Longview” got pretty heavy airplay and Jam-lookalikes Green Day were featured in the “Cute Band Alert” feature of the late, much lamented Sassy magazine, an honor previously bestowed on the likes of The Pogues, the Bay City Rollers, and Duran Duran. Within a year you couldn’t fucking self-abuse yourself without hearing a Green Day single as the Bay Area crooners busted out “Welcome to Paradise,” “When I Come Around,” and "Basket Case" in quick succession. So we are here now to decide—Green Day, threat or menace?
PRO: 1993? The sound of a convent of nuns being raped by a hundred morbidly obese New York Jets fans would have been preferable to the grunge being forced down our throats at the time. They were a spiky-haired infusion against a flannel-clad scene that was no longer alternative and had regressed to aping 1970s hard rock. Besides, the songs are definitely keepers. Green Day had alternative cred in a way that Stone Temple Pilots did not.
ANTI: It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right….tonight, on a very special Party of Five…I hope you had the time of your life...Concept albums, concerts at the Patriot Center, endless promos on DC101. If that’s punk then I’m a 25-year-old pool party attending scenester. Green Day also tended to make wacky, plot-heavy videos that put them perilously close to Foo Fighters territory. Did you form a band as a backdoor to becoming the next Jerry Zucker? Spawned a legion of mediocre imitators and one could build a credible war crimes case against “Time of Your Life” for launching emo and allowing Pete Wentz to find gainful employment as an “entertainer.” We must judge the tree by its fruit and personally I find Blink-182 and All Time Low quite mealy and sour.
VERDICT: PRO. If someone had to get massive and play arenas, then it may as well have been Green Day, and not Seven Mary Three. I also think Billy Joe’s dirt-eating at Woodstock was a pretty bad-ass move.